Men are raised with a ton of privilege, yet often see women being their equals in the world. These men then don't know how to maintain a true balance in their relationships.
Men are raised with a ton of privilege, yet often see women being their equals in the world. These men then don’t know how to maintain a true balance in their relationships.
Somedays back while having a conversation with one of my senior colleagues, who was one of the best professionals I know and an equally good homemaker, something hit me really hard. While describing what she thinks about this era she said ‘we are a cursed generation‘.
And it made me think, are we really?
Our one leg is tied to the beliefs of our previous generations, and the other one is moving forward to match pace with the transforming world. There is a constant ‘tug of war’ going on between traditional values and modernisation. It is so for all genders, but lets talk about the women first.
We the modern Indian women face this balancing act between being a modern or traditional woman, daily. The forward-moving leg is taking us towards a career or a job, freedom of speech; we are CEOs, astronauts, doctors, fashionistas – you name a profession and you will recall the top-notch women of that sector. But the other leg which is tied with the ‘traditional values’ (I don’t know if these are actually values, or the stubbornness of their generation) is pulling us back, by expecting us to balance between home and work.
I am not denying the fact that many of us are managing this balancing act very well. Yet, this expectation is only from women.
We want to do wonders in our career and match pace with men who move fast by default. But on the other hand, we are still struggling to prove that cooking and cleaning are not a gender based skill but a life skill.
We struggle to prove this to the world (read men). Because we need to believe in it ourselves, but we don’t.
Many of you will not agree with me, so let me ask you. During this lockdown when everyone is working from home, how many times have the men of your house washed utensils, mopped the floor? And even if they did, were they able to consider it as an equal responsibility or were they just ‘helping the women’? Think.
Let’s talk a bit about men. They are also moving forward, doing well in their career. Many of them are coming forward to share household responsibility as well, but still, whenever they find themselves in a face-off with the previous generation, they start to show their patriarchal selves.
They start to behave as if they are ‘giving permission’ to their better halves or sisters, they start to feel that they are superior.
It’s not really their fault; they have been raised like this. Traditional values have always taught them that men are ‘superior’ but the modern world tells them that women are their equals. These ‘confused’ men then don’t know how to engage with a woman and maintain balance.
Similarly, when we want to pick a partner of our choice and we choose them because they have certain traits. We try to someone who can gel with us on various compatibility levels in a ‘modern, progressive’ world. But on the other hand, our traditional selves would want that same person to change themselves and become the choice of our parents, then we want them to let go of those traits which we liked earlier.
The free-spirited girl will suddenly start looking too modern to adjust in the family.
Somewhere I feel men face more trouble in managing between the two worlds as it takes away their ‘privilege’ that a traditional society would guarantee. While women who have been restricted earlier, now find they are happy with even the little freedom that they get, as it’s progress for them(Rolling my eyes)!
We encounter this traditional v/s modern tussle in every walk of life. We are career centric, we want to move to other countries, we want to earn, but on the other hand, we also worry about our parents, will also want to move back to our cities, town, country, because our traditional heart will always carry guilt.
We love to celebrate Diwali, burst crackers, carry out our traditional practices, but we are also concerned about the environment as we are progressive in our approach and thinking about the future.
Our traditional values suggest that we keep our affairs private, but modernisation has made us become more social; our day to day life gets updated on social media.
At the same time, certain things that truly bring joy to my heart are where traditional and modern values are merging so beautifully. We eat sweets while wearing fit bits, we catch flights after eating a spoon full of curd and sugar, after buying a new Tesla we still first visit a temple to break a coconut.
I am not saying that one is right and the other is wrong. The question is what to hold on to, and what should we let go off to unburden ourselves.
Author’s note: Co-Written with my elder sister Smrati Awasthi.
First published here.
Image source: a still from the film 2 States
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This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
Moral police have been underlining the 'fact' that the traditional dress of Indian women is the saree. Otherwise the women will be unsafe! Really?
Moral police have been underlining the ‘fact’ that the traditional dress of Indian women is the saree. Otherwise the women will be unsafe! Really?
The traditional dress of Indian women is the saree, from the tip of Kanyakumari to the Khasi hills of Meghalaya, from the peaks of J&K to the deserts of Rajasthan, all Indian women wear sarees (diversity in dress in India is a well known myth)!
We have never seen them wear any other dress than the saree except of course, the spoilt western influenced modern women who cannot make round rotis. The last type of women are not worth our time anyway! Also all of India eats roti (there are no Mothers in law that complain of bad sambhar making daughters in law). India is hence one homogeneous land, with all saree wearing women and roti eating people; there are no exceptions.
Of course the fully covered and Indian culture approved shalwar kameez is also something Indian women in the cities wear. However we should propose changing the name of this Indian dress as it kind of sounds like it originated in an alien culture, almost as if it came to India with the invading Mughals.
Indian women are conditioned to nurture, to give in to a man's ego, to be the 'good woman'. No wonder then, that manipulation is a survival strategy just to be able to live their lives.
Indian women are conditioned to nurture, to give in to a man’s ego, to be the ‘good woman’. No wonder then, that manipulation is a survival strategy just to be able to live their lives.
History books tell us that women have often been cunning in their dealings, have been manipulating men from the beginning of time.
My whole life, I have loathed manipulation with the same vigor as I have despised violence against women. In my idealistic, black-and-white world, there is never an okay reason to unnecessarily lie, hurt others, or play with their vulnerability. Be direct. Speak your mind. Live your life.
That said, in recent times, I have gotten curious about manipulation, especially within the parameters of Indian culture.